You may well think your English is great – after all, you can communicate with your English-speaking colleagues well enough and write reports and articles that people can understand. But there’s always room for improvement. Usually a lot of improvement.
So who am I and what gives me any authority to make statements about wonky English written by Cloggies? Well, I’m Mike Wilkinson, originally British but now a resident of the Netherlands for over thirty years. And for twenty or more of those, as part of a role as a professional translator, I’ve been correcting texts written in English by Dutch authors.
And there are certain things that I find myself putting right time and time again. Even when I’m proofreading translations by my non-native colleagues whom you might think really ought to know better. We’re all human; we’ve all got our blind spots.
What makes this blog a bit different? After all, there are other good resources around describing typical mistakes made by the Dutch when speaking English or writing it. There are two reasons why this blog may be particularly useful to you:
- The errors addressed haven’t been plucked out of thin air – it’s not a mere impression that the writer has gained over the course of time. Before starting, I took the time to make a detailed analysis of about half a million words of text my company has corrected (that’s three or four paperbacks’ worth, shall we say) by over fifty authors. So it’s backed up by statistics: these are genuinely and demonstrably the things Dutch professionals get wrong most often.
- And because of that natural selection bias in the material, I won’t be wasting your time too much with things you already know and aren’t getting wrong. It’s called Advanced Dunglish because the schoolkid errors – the Elementary Dunglish, if you like – aren’t in there. Except for the elementary mistakes that the professionals keep making, of course…